Victoria’s government is planning to regulate advertisers to prevent them using exploitative or discriminatory depictions of women. Apparently, the Australian Association of National Advertisers already have a code of conduct and a tradition of self-regulation. As a result, AANA says they will fight the government’s plans. They say regulation is unnecessary – because they have this voluntary code of conduct, which they all follow… voluntarily.
I have a few questions for them. For a start, if the self-regulation was working so well, why am I surrounded by ‘exploitative or discriminatory depictions of women’ on every billboard, magazine cover and television advertising? Secondly, why are they against regulation? Do they want to be allowed to continue using these kind of images? If so, why? So they can sell products?
I’m not naive – the answer to those questions is yes, they do want to continue using those images, because they do sell. Which also means, by definition, that they think it’s okay for women to be depicted in such a manner, and that they will fight any attempt to stop them.
I have another question: why, in this day and age, do we need to bring in regulation to stop this kind of representation of women? Why does it exist in the first place? Can you imagine us having this discussion if the subject were, say, asian people? Would we accept the discriminatory images of asian people to be used in advertising? Or sight challenged people? Would we even be talking about it? No, of course not – because our enlightened society doesn’t allow that kind of discrimination.
Against anybody but women. When it comes to the bodies of women, apparently, all bets are off. Of course, it’s only the bodies of certain women – there are almost no women of colour, and certainly none that don’t have perfect bodies. So nobody can claim that it’s just women being represented in advertising, because those model are representative only of other models.
We should no more allow this kind of advertising than we would allow it to abuse and discriminate against indigenous Australians, or children. But how do we stop it, apart from regulation?
We obviously can’t trust the advertisers to take care of it themselves.